Skip to main content

Full text of "Poems on miscellaneous subjects"

See other formats








V V 






















* ^^ 









^- %.^^ ♦- 















.'^^#/>,:^ ^?. .^^ '' 



♦ .-j:*" '.,(00 



POEMS 



MISCELLANEOUS SUBJECTS, 



EEANCES ELLEN WATKINS. itcynJ^. 



TENTH THOUSAND. 



^v, - ;j i . «* ?CG 



PHILADELPHIA: 

Uerrihbw & Thompson, Printers 

Lodge street, North side Pennsylvania Bank. 

1857. 



41 






PREFACE 



Of the colored population of the United States, three 
millions are doomed to the horrible condition of chattel 
slavery That condition is the annihilation of manhood 
the extinction of genius, the burial of mind. In it, therefore, 
there can be no progress on the part of its victims,- what 
they are capable of being and doing can be only a matter 
of supposition. It is unlawful to teach them the alphabet • 
they not only have no literature, but they know not the 
meaning of the word ; for them there is no hope, and there- 
fore no incentive to a higher development; in one word, 
they are property to be owned, not persons to bo protected. 

There are half a million free colored persons in our 
country. These are not admitted to equal rights and pri- 
vileges with the whites. As a body, their means of educa- 
tion are extremely limited ; they are oppressed on every 
hand ; they are confined to the performance of the most 
menial acts ; consequently, it is not surprising that their 
intellectual, moral and social advancement is not more 
rapid. Nay, it is surprising, in view of the injustice meted 
out to them, that they have done so well. Many bright 



examples of intelligence, talent, genius and piety might be 
cited among their ranks, and these are constantly multi- 
plying. 

Every indication of ability, on the part of any of their 
number, is deserving of special encouragement. Whatever 
is attempted in poetry or prose, in art or science, in profes- 
sional or mechanical life, should be viewed with a friendly 
eye, and criticised in a lenient spirit. To measure them by 
the same standard as we measure the productions of the 
favored white inhabitants of the land would be manifestly 
unjust. The varying circumstances and conditions of life 
are to be taken strictly into account. 

Hence, in reviewing the following Poems, the critic will 
remember that they are written by one young in years, and 
identified in complexion and destiny with a depressed and 
outcast race, and who has had to contend with a thousand 
disadvantages from earliest life. They certainly are very 
creditable to her, both in a literary and moral point of view, 
and indicate the possession of a talent which, if carefully 
cultivated and properly encouraged, cannot fail to secure 
for herself a poetic reputation, and to deepen the interest 
already so extensively felt in the liberation and enfranchise 
ment of the entire colored race. Though Miss Watkins 
has never been a slave, she has always resided in a slave 
State, Baltimore being her native city. A specimen of her 
prose writings is also appended. A few slight (alterations 
excepted, the work is entirely her own. "W. L. G. 

Boston, August 15, 1854. 



POEMS. 



THE SYROPHENICIAN WOMAN. 

Joy to my bosom ! rest to my fear ! 
Judea's prophet draweth near ! 
Joy to my bosom ! peace to my heart ! 
Sickness and sorrow before bim depart! 

KackM with agony and pain, 
Writhing, long my child has lain ; 
Now the prophet draweth near, 
All our griefs shall disappear. 

^' Lord I" she cried with mournful breath, 
" Save ! Oh, save my child from death V 
But as though she was unheard, 
Jesus answered not a word. 

With a purpose nought could move. 
And the zeal of woman's love, 
Down she knelt in anguish wild — 
" Master ! save, Oh ! save my child V[ 
1* 



6 

" ' Tis not meet," the Saviour said, 
" Thus to waste the children's bread ; 
I am only sent to seek 
Israel's lost and scattered sheep." 

"True/' she said, " Oh gracious Lord ! 
True and faithful is thy word : 
But the humblest, meanest, may 
" Eat the crumbs they cast away." 

" Woman," said th' astonish'd Lord, 
"Be it even as thy word ! 
By thy faith that knows no fail. 
Thou hast ask'd, and shalt prevail." 



THE SLAVE MOTHER. 

Heard you that shriek ? It rose 

So wildly on the air, 
It seemed as if a burdeo'd heart 

Was breaking in despa'ir. 

Saw you those hands so sadly clasped— 
The bowed and feeble head ■ — 

The shuddering of that frad^e^foriji — 
That look of ^rief and dread ? 



Saw you the sad, imploring eye ? 

Its every glance was pain, 
As if a storm of agony 

Were sweeping through the brain. 

She is a mother, pale with fear, 
Her boy clings to her side, 

And in her kirtle vainly tries 
His trembling form to hide. 

He is not hers, although she bore 
For him a mother^s pains ; 

He is not hers, although her blood 
Is coursing through his veins ! 

He is not hers, for cruel hands 

May rudely tear apart 
The only wreath of household love 

That binds her breaking heart. 

His love has been a joyous light 
That o'er her pathway smiled, 

A fountain gushing ever new, 
Amid life's desert wild. 

His lightest word has been a tone 
Of music round her heart. 

Their lives a streamlet blent in one- 
Oh, Father ! must they part ? 



8 



They tear him from her circling arms, 
Her last and fond embrace ; 

Oh ! never more may her sad eyes 
Gaze on his mournful face. 

No marvel, then^ these bitter shrieks 

Disturb the listening air : 
She is a mother, and her heart 

Is breaking in despair. 



BIBLE DEFENCE OF SLAVERY. 

Take sackcloth of the darkest dye, 
And shroud the pulpits round ! 

Servants of Him that cannot lie, 
Sit mourning on the ground. 

Let holy horror blanch each cheek, 

Pale every brow with fears : 
And rocks and stones, if ye could speak, 

Ye well might melt to tears ! 

Let sorrow breathe in every tone, 

In every strain ye raise ; 
Insult not God's majestic throne 

With th* mockery of prais.e. 



9 



A " reverend'' man, whose light should be 

The guide of age and youth, 
Brings to the shrine of Slavery 

The sacrifice of truth ! 

For the direst wrong by man imposed, 

Since Sodom's fearful cry, 
The word of life has-been unclosed, 

To give your God the lie. 

Oh ! when ye pray for heathen lands, 
And plead for their dark shores, 

Kemember Slavery's cruel hands 
Make heathens at your doors ! 



ELIZA HAKRIS. 

Like a fawn from the arrow, startled and wild, 

A woman swept by us, bearing a child ; 

In her eye was the night of a settled despair, 

And her brow was o'ershaded with anguish and care. 

She was nearing the river — in reaching the brink, 
She heeded no danger, she paused not to think j 
For she is a mother — her child is a slave — 
And she'll give him his freedom, or find him a grave ! 



10 

It was a vision to haunt us, that innocent face — 
So pale in its aspect, so fair in its grace ; 
As the tramp of the horse and the bay of the hound, 
With the fetters that gall, were trailing the ground 1 

She was nerv'd by despair, and strengthened by woe, 
As she leap'd o'er the chasms that yawn' d from below; 
Death howl'd in the tempest, and rav'd in the blast, 
But she heard not the sound till the danger was past. 

Oh ! how shall I speak of my proud country's shame ? 
Of the stains on her glory, how give them their name ? 
How say that her banner in mockery waves — 
Her " star-spangled baunei-" — o'er millions of slaves ? 

How say that the lawless may torture and chase 
A woman whose crime is the hue of her face ? 
How the depths of the forest may echo around 
With the shrieks of despair, and the bay of the hound? 

With her step on the ice, and her arm on her child, 
The danger was fearful, the pathway was wild ; 
But, aided by Heaven, she gained a free shore, 
Where the friends of humanity open'd their door. 

So fragile and lovely, so fearfully pale, 
Like a lily that bends to the breath of the gale, 
Save the heave of her breast, and the sway of her hair, 
You'd have thought her a statue of fear and despair. 



11 



In agony close to her bosom slie press'd 
The life of her heart, the child of her breast : — 
Oh ! love from its tenderness gathering might, 
Had strengthen'd her soul for the dangers of flight. 

But she's free ! — yes, free from the land where the slave 
From the hand of oppression must rest in the grave ; 
Wiiere bondage and torture, where scourges and chains 
Have plac'd on our banner indelible stains. 

The bloodhounds have miss'd the scent of her way ; 
The hunter is rifled and foil'd of his prey ; 
Fierce jargon and cursing, with clanking of chains, 
Make sounds of strange discord on Liberty's plains. 

With the rapture oflove and fulness of bliss, 
She plac'd on his brow a mother's fond kiss : — 
Oh ! poverty, danger and death she can brave, 
Fot the child of her love is no longer a slave ! 



ETHIOPIA. 

Yes ! Ethiopia yet shall stretch 
Her bleeding hands abroad ; 

Her cry of agony shall reach 
The burning throne of God, 



12 

The tyrant's yoke from off her neck, 

His fetters from her soul, 
The mighty hand of Grod shall break, 

And spurn the base control. 

Redeemed from dust and freed from chains, 

Her sons snail lift their eyes } 
From cloud-capt hills and verdant plains 

Shall shouts of triumph rise. 

Upon her dark, despairing brow, 

Shall play a smile of peace ; 
For God shall bend unto her wo, 

And bid her sorrows cease. 

'Neath sheltering vines and stately palms 

Shall laughing children play, 
And aged sires with joyous psalms 

Shall gladden every day. 

Secure by night, and blest by day. 

Shall pass her happy hours ; 
Nor human tigers hunt for prey 

Within her peaceful bowers. 

Then, Ethiopia ! stretch, oh ! stretch 

Thy bleeding hands abroad ; 
Thy cry of agony shall reach 

And find redress from Grod. 



13 

THE DRUNKARD'S CHILD. 

He stood beside his dying child, 

With a dim and bloodshot eye ; 
They'd won him from the haunts of vice 

To see his first-born die. 
He came with a slow and staggering tread, 

A vague, unmeaning stare, 
And, reeling, clasped the clammy hand, 

So deathly pale and fair. 

In a dark and gloomy chamber, 

Life ebbing fast away, 
On a coarse and wretched pallet, 

The dying sufferer lay : 
A smile of recognition 

Lit up the glazing eye ; 
'^ I'm very glad,'' it seemed to say, 

^^ You've come to see me die." 

That smile reached to his callous heart, 

Its sealed fountains stirred ; 
He tried to speak, but on his lips 

Faltered and died each word. 
And burning tears like rain 

Poured down his bloated face. 
Where guilt, remorse and shame 

Had scathed, and left their trace. 



14 



" My father V said the dying child, 

(His voice was faint and low^) 
" Oh ! clasp me closely to your heart, 

And kiss me ere I go. 
Bright angels beckon me away, 

To the holy city fair — 
Oh ! tell me, father, ere I go. 

Say, will you meet me there ?" 

He clasped him to his throbbing heart, 

<a will! I Willi" he said; 
His pleading ceased — the father held 

His first-born and his dead ! 
The marble brow, with golden curls. 

Lay lifeless on his breast ; 
Like sunbeams on the distant clouds 

Which line the gorgeous west. 



THE SLAVE AUCTION. 

The sale began — young girls were there, 
Defenceless in their wretchedness. 

Whose stifled sobs of deep despair 
Revealed their anguish and distress. 



15 



And mothers stood with streaming eyes, 
And saw their dearest children sold ; 

Unheeded rose their bitter cries, 

While tyrants bartered them for gold. 

And woman, with her love and truth — 
For these in sable forms may dwell — 

Gaz'd on the husband of her youth, 
With anguish none may paint or tell. 

And men, whose sole crime was their hue, 
The impress of their Maker's hand, 

And frail and shrinking children, too. 
Were gathered in that mournful band. 

Ye who have laid your love to rest, 
And wept above their lifeless clay. 

Know not the anguish of that breast. 
Whose lov'd are rudely torn away. 

Ye may not know how desolate 
Are bosoms rudely forced to part. 

And how a dull and heavy weight 

Will press the life-drops from the heart. 



16 



THE REVEL. 

^^ Sc Icnowetli not tliat the dead are there J' 

In yonder halls reclining 
Are forms surpassing fair, 

And brilliant lights are shining, 
But, oh ! the dead are there ! 

There ^s music, song and dance, 
There 's banishment of care. 

And mirth in every glance, 
But, oh ! the dead are there ! 

The wine cup's sparkling glow 
Blends with the viands rare. 

There ^s revelry and show, 
But still, the dead are there ! 

'Neath that flow of song and mirth 
Runs the current of despair, 

But the simple sons of earth 
Know not the dead are there ! 

They 'II shudder start and tremble, 
They '11 weep in wild despair 

"When the solemn truth breaks on them, 
That the dead, the dead are there ! 



17 



THAT BLESSED HOPE. 

Oh ! crush it not, tliat hope so blest, 

Which cheers the fainting heart, 
And points it to the coming rest, 

Where sorrow has no part- 
Tear from my heart each worldly prop, 

Unbind each earthly string, 
But to this blest and glorious hope, 

Oh ! let my spirit cling- 

It cheered amid the days of old 
Each holy patriarch's breast j 

It was an anchor to their soula, 
Upon it let me rest. 

When wandering in dens and caves. 
In sheep and goat skins dress' d, 

A peel'd and scatter'd people learned 
To know this hope was blest. 

Help me, amidst this world of strife. 
To long for Christ to reign, 

That when He brings the crown of life, 
I may that crown obtain ! 

2^ 



18 



THE DYINO CHRISTIAN. 

The light was faintly streaming 
Within a darkened room, 

Where a woman, faint and feeble, 
Was sinking to the tomb. 

The silver cord was loosened, 
We knew that she must die ; 

We read the mournful token 
In the dimness of her eye. 

We read it in the radiance 
That lit her pallid cheek, 

And the quivering of the feeble lip, 
Too faint its joys to speak. 

Like a child oppressed with slumber, 

She calmly sank to rest, 
With her trust in her Redeemer, 

And her head upon His breast. 

She faded from our vision, 

Like a thing of love and light; 

JBut we feel she lives for ever, 
A spirit pure and bright. 



19 



REPORT 



I HEARD, my young friend 
You were seeking a wife, 

A woman to make 
Your companion for life. 

Now, if you are seeking 
A wife for your youth, 

Let this be your aim, then — 
Seek a woman of truth. 

She may not have talents, 
"With greatness combined, 

Her gifts may be humble, 
Of person and mind : 

But if she be constant, 
And gentle, and true, 

Believe me my friend. 

She 's the woman for you ! 

Oh ! wed not for beauty, 
Though fair is the prize ; 

It may pall when you grasp it. 
And fade in your eyes. 



20 

Let gold not allure you, 
Let wealth not attract ; 

With a house full of treasure, 
A woman may lack. 

Let her habits be frugal, 

Her hands not afraid 
To work in her household 

Or follow her trade. 

Let her language be modest, 

Her actions discreet; 
Her manners refined, 

And free from deceit. 

Now if such you should find, 
In your journey through life, 

Just open your mind, 
And make her your wife. 



ADVICE TO THE GIRLS. 

Nay, do not blush ! I only heard 
You had a mind to marry ; 

I thought I'd speak a friendly word, 
So just one moment tarry. 



21 

Wed not a man whose merit lies 
In things of outward show, 

In raven hair or flashing eyes. 
That please your fancy so. 

But marry one who 's good and kind, 
And free from all pretence; 

Who, if without a gifted mind, 
At least has common sense. 



SAVED BY FAITH. 

She said, if I may hut touch his clothes, I shall he whole^ 

Life to her no brightness brought, 
Pale and striken was her brow, 

Till a bright and joyous thought 
Lit the darkness of her woe. 

Long had sickness on her preyed, 

Strength from every nerve had gone ; 
Skill and art could give no aid : 
Thus her weary life passed on. 

Like a sad and mournful dream, 

Daily felt she life depart, 
Hourly knew the vital stream 

Left the fountain of her heart. 



22 

He who luird tlie storm to rest, 
Cleans'd tlie lepers, raised the dead. 

Whilst a crowd around him press' d, 
Near that sufifering one did tread. 

Nerv'd by blended hope and fear, 
Reasoned thus her anxious heart; 

^^If to touch him I draw near, 
All my suffering shall depart. 

"While the crowd around him stand, 
I will touch,'' the sufferer said; 

Forth she reached her timid hand- 
As she touched her sickness fled. 

" Who hath touched me ?" Jesus cried ; 

^' Virtue from my body 's gone." 
From the crowd a voice replied, 

" Why inquire in such a throng ?" 

Faint with fear through every limb, 

Yet too grateful to deny, 
Tremblingly she knelt to him, 

" Lord !" she answered it was 1 1" 

Kindly, gently, Jesus said — 
Words like balm unto her soul — 

''Peace upon thy life be shed! 

Child ! thy faith has made thee whole P' 



23 



DIED OF STAEYATION. 

They forced him into prison, 
Because he begged for bread ; 

" My wife is starving — -dying V 
In vain the poor man plead.* 

They forced him into prison, 
Strong bars enclosed the walls, 

While the rich and proud were feasting 
Within their sumptuous halls. 

He'd striven long with anguish. 

Had wrestled with despair ; 
But his weary heart was breaking 

'Neath its crushing load of care. 

And he prayed them in that prison, 
" Oh, let me seek my wife !" 

For he knew that want was feeding 
On the remnant of her life. 

That night his wife lay moaning 

Upon her bed in pain ; 
Hunger gnawing at her vitals, 

Fever scorching through her brain. 

* See this case, as touchiagly related, in " Oliver Twist, 
by Dickens. 



24 

She wondered at liis tarrying, 

He was not wont to stay ; 
'Mid hunger, pain and watching, 

The moments waned away. 

Sadly crouching by the embers, 
Her famished children lay ; 

And she longed to gaze upon them, 
As her spirit passed away. 

But the embers were too feeble. 
She could not see each face, 

So she clasped her arms around them — 
'Twas their mother's last embrace. 

They loosed him from his prison, 

As a felon from his chain ; 
Though his strength was hunger bitten, 

He sought his home again. 

Just as her spirit lingered 

On Time's receding shore, 
She heard his welcome footstep 

On the threshold of the door. 

He was faint and spirit-broken. 

But, rousing from despair. 
He clasped her icy fingers, 

As she breathed her dying prayer. 



25 



With a gentle smile and blessing, 
Her spirit winged its flight, 

As the morn, in all its glory. 

Bathed the world in dazzling light. 

There was weeping, bitter weeping, 
In the chamber of the dead. 

For well the stricken husband knew 
She had died for want of bread. 



A MOTHER'S HEROISM. 

When the noble mother of Lovejot heard of her son'a 
death, she said, " It is well ! I had rather he should die sa 
than desert his principles." 

The murmurs of a distant strife 

Fell on a mother's ear; 
Her son had yielded up his life, 

Mid scenes of wrath and fear. 

They told her how he 'd spent his breath 

In pleading for the dumb, 
And how the glorious martyr wreath 

Her child had nobly won. 
3 



26 

They told her of his coarage high, 

Mid brutal force and might ; 
How he had nerved himself to die 

In battl'ng tor the right. 

It seemed as if a fearful storm 
Swept wildly round her soul ; 

A moment, and her fragile form 
Bent 'neath its fierce control. 

From lip and brow the color fled — 

But light flashed to her eye : 
" 'T is well ! 't is well !" the mother said, 

" That thus my child should die. 

" 'T is well that, to his latest breath, 

He plead for liberty ; 
Truth nerved him for the hour of death, 

And taught him how to die. 

" It taught him how to cast aside 

Earth's honors and renown ; 
To trample on her fame and pnde, 

And win a martyr's crown." 



27 



THE FUaiTIVE^S WIFE. 

It was my sad and weary lot 

To toil in slavery ; 
But one thing cheered my lowly cot — 

My husband was with me. 

One evening, as our children played 

Around our cabin door, 
I noticed on his brow a shade 

I'd never seen before ; 

And in his eyes a gloomy night 
Of anguish and despair j — 

I gazed upon their troubled light, 
To read the meaning there. 

He strained me to his heaving teart-^ 
My o'\vn beat wild witli fear ; 

I knew not, but I sadly felt 
There must be evil near. 

He vainly' strove to east aside 
The tears that fell like rain : — 

Too frail, indeed, is manly pride, 
To strive with grief and pain. 



28 



Again he clasped me to his breast, 
And said that we must part : 

I tried to speak — but, oh ! it seemed 
An arrow reached my heart. 

'' Bear not/' I cried, ^' unto your grave, 
The yoke you've borne from birth ; 

No longer live a helpless slave, 
The meanest thing on earth !" 



THE CONTRAST. 

They scorned her for her sinning, 
Spoke harshly of her fall, 

Nor lent the hand of mercy 
To break her hated thrall. 

The dews of meek repentance 
Stood in her downcast eye ; 

Would no one heed her anguish ? 
All pass her coldly by ? 

From the cold, averted glances 
Of each reproachful eye, 



29 

She turned aside, heart-broken, 
And laid her down to die. 

And where was he, who sullied 

Her once unspotted name ; 
Who lured her from life's brightness 

To agony and shame ? 

Who left her on life's billows, 
A wrecked and ruined thing ; 

Who brought the winter of despair 
Upon Hope's blooming spring ? 

Through the halls of wealth and fashion 

In gaiety and pride, 
He was leading to the altar 

A fair and lovely bride ! 

None scorned him for his sinning, 
Few saw it through his gold ; 

His crimes were only foibles, 
And these were gently told. 



Before him rose a vision, 
A maid of beauty rare ; 

Then a pale, heart-broken woman, 
The image of despair. 
3* 



30 

Next came a sad procession, 
With many a sob and tear ; ^ 

A widow' d, childless mother 
Totter' d by an humble bier. 

The vision quickly faded, 
The sad, unwelcome sight; 

But his lip forgot its laughter. 
And his eye its careless light. 

A moment, and the flood-gates 
Of memory opened wide ; 

And remorseful recollection 
Flowed like a lava tide. 

That widow's wail of anguish 
Seemed strangely 'blending there, 

And mid the soft lights floated 
That image of despair. 



THE PRODiaAL'S RETURN. 

He came — a wanderer ; years of sin 
Had blanched his blooming cheek, 

Telling a tale of strife within. 
That words might vainly speak. 



31 



His feet were bare, his garments torn, 

His brow was deathly white ; 
His heart was bleeding, crushed and worn, 

His soul had felt a blight. 

His father saw him ; pity swept 
And yearn' d through every vein ; 

He ran and clasp'd his child, and wept, 
Murm'ring, " He lives again !'' 

" Father, Tve come, but not to claim 
Aught from thy love or grace ; 

I come, a child of guilt and shame, 
To beg a servant's place." 

^'Enough ! enough !" the father said, 
^' Bring robes of princely cost V — 

The past with all its shadows fled. 
For now was found the lost. 

*^Put shoes upon my poor child's feet, 

With rings his hand adorn, 
And bid my house his coming greet 

With music, dance and song.'^ 

Oh ! Saviour, mid this world of strife, 
When wayward here we roam. 

Conduct us to the paths of life, 
And guide us safely home. 



32 

Then in thy holy courts above, 
Thy praise our lips shall sound, 

While angels join our song of love, 
That we, the lost are found ! 



EVA'S FAEEWELL 

Farewell, father ! I am a dying, 
Going to the " glory land," 

Where the sun is ever shining, 
And the zephyr's ever bland. 

Where the living fountains flowing. 
Quench the pining spirit's thirst ; 

Where the tree of life is growing, 
Where the crystal fountains burst. 

Father ! hear that music holy 
Floating from the spirit land ! 

At the pearly gates of glory, 
Eadiant angels waiting stand. 

Father ! kiss your dearest Eva, 
Press her cold and clammy hand, 

Ere the glittering hosts receive her, 
Welcome to their cherub band. 



33 



THE TENNESSEE HERO. 

" He had heard his comrades plotting to obtain tneir 
liberty, and rather than betray them he received "750 lashes 
and died." 

He stood before tlie savage tlirong, 

The base and coward crew ; 
A tameless ligbt flashed from his eye, 

His heart beat firm and true. 

He was the hero of his band. 

The noblest of them all ; 
Though fetters galled his weary limbS; 

His spirit spurned their thrall. 

And towered^ in its manly might, 

Above the murderous crew. 
Oh ! liberty had nerved his heart, 

And every pulse beat true. 

^' Now tell us," said the savage troop, 

" And life thy gain shall be ! 
Who are the men that plotting, say — 

* They must and will be free I' " 

Oh, could you have seen the hero then. 

As his lofty soul arose, 
And his dauntless eyes defiance flashed 
On his mean and craven foes I 



34 



'^ I know the men who would be free 5 
They are the heroes of your land ; 

But death and torture I defy, 
Ere I betray that band. 

And what ! oh, what is life to me. 

Beneath your base control ? 
Nay ! do your worst. Ye have no chains 

To bind my free-born soul." 

They brought the hateful lash and scourge, 

With murder m each eye. 
Bjit a solemn vow was on his lips — 

He .had resolved to die. 

Yes, rather than betray his trust, 

He 'd meet a death of pain ; 
'T was sweeter far to meet it thus 

Than wear a treason stain ! 

Like storms of wrath, of hate and pain, 
The blows rained thick and fast ; 

But the monarch soul kept true 
Till the gates of life were past. 

And the martyr spirit fled 
To the throne of God on high. 

And showed his gaping wounds 
Before the unslumbering eye. 



35 



FREE LABOR. 

I wear an easy garment, 

01 er it n^ toiling slave 
Wept tears of hopeless anguish, 

In his passage to the grave. 

And from its ample folds 

Shall rise no^ cry to, God, 
Upon its warp and woof shall be 

No stain of tears and blood. 

Oh, lightly shall it press my form, 

Unladened with a sigh, 
I shall not 'mid its rustling hear. 

Some sad despairing cry. 

This fabric is too light to bear 
The weight of bondsmen's tears, 

I shall not in its texture trace 
The agony of years. 

Too light to bear a smother' d sigh, 
From some lorn woman's heart. 

Whose only wreath of household love 
Is rudely torn apart. 



Then lightly shall it press my form, 

UnburdenM by a sigh ; 
And from its seams and folds shall rise, 
No voice to pierce the sky, 

And witness at the throne of God, 
In language deep and strong, 

That I have nerv'd Oppression's hand, 
For deeds of guilt and wrong. 



LINES 



At the Portals of the Future, 

Full of madness, guilt and gloom, 
Stood the hateful form of Slavery, 

Crying, Give, Oh ! give me room- 
Room to smite the earth with cursing, 

Room to scatter, rend and slay. 
From the trembling mother's bosom 

Room to tear her child away ; 

Room to trample on the manhood 
Of the country far and wide ; 

Room to spread o'er every Eden 
Slavery's scorching lava-tide 



37 



Pale and trembling stood the Future, 
Quailing 'neath his frown of hate, 

As he grasped with bloody clutches 
The great keys of Doom and Fate. 

In his hand he held a banner 

All festooned with blood and tears : 

'Twas a fearful ensign, woven 

With the grief and wrong of years. 

On his brow he wore a helmet 
Decked with strange and cruel art-; 

Every jewel was a life-drop 
Wrung from some poor broken heart. 

Though her cheek was pale and anxious, 
Yet, with look and brow sublime. 

By the pale and trembling Future 
Stood the Crisis of our time. 

And from many a throbbing bosom 
Came the words in fear and gloom, 

Tell us. Oh ! thou coming Crisis, 
What shall be our country's doom ? 

Shall the wings of dark destruction 
Brood and hover o'er our land. 

Till we trace the steps of ruin 

By their blight, from strand to strand ? 
4 



S8 



With a look and voice prophetic 
Spake the solemn Crisis then : 

I have only mapped the future 
For the erring sons of men. 

If ye strive for Truth and Justice, 

If ye battle for the Right, 
Ye shall lay your hands all strengthened 

On God's robe of love and light ; 

But if ye trample on His children, 
To his ear will float each groan, 

Jar the cords that bind them to Him, 
And they '11 vibrate at his throne. 

And the land that forges fetters, 
Binds the weak and poor in chains, 

Must in blood or tears of sorrow 
Wash away her guilty stains. 



THE DISMISSAL OF TYNG. 

" We have but three words to say, ' served him right.' " 
Church Journal (E2nsco^al) 

Served him right ! How could he dare 

To touch the idol of our day ? 
What if its shrine be red with blood ? 

Why, let him turn his eyes away. 



39 

Who dares dispute our right to bind 

With galling chains the weak and poor ? 

To starve and crush the deathless mind, 
Or hunt the slave from door to door ? 

Who dares dispute our right to sell 
The mother from her weeping child ? 

To hush with ruthless stripes and blows 
Her shrieks and scbs of anguish wild ? 

'Tis right to plead for heathen lands, 
To send the Bible to their shores. 

And then to make, for power and pelf, 
A race of heathens at our doors. 

What holy horror filled our hearts — 

It shook our church from dome to nave— 

Our cheeks grew pale with pious dread, 
^To hear him breathe the name of slave. 

Upon our Zion, fair and strong. 
His words fell like a fearful blight ; 

We turned him from our saintly fold ; 
And this we did to " serve him right." 



40 



THE SLAVE MOTHER. 

A TALE or THE OHIO. 

I have but four, the treasures of my soul, 
They lay like doves around my heart ; 

I tremble lest some cruel hand 

Should tear my household wreaths apart. 

My baby girl, with childish glance, 
Looks curious in my anxious eye, 

She little knows that for her sake 
Deep shadows round my spirit lie. 

My playful boys could I forget. 

My home might seem a joyous spot, 
But with their sunshine mirth I blend 
. The darkness of their future lot. 

And thou my babe, my darling one, 
My last, my loved, my precious child, 

Oh ! when I think upon thy doom 

My heart grows faint and then throbs wild. 

The Ohio's bridged and spanned with ice. 
The northern star is shining bright, 

ril take the nestlings of my heart 
And search for freedom by its light. 



41 



Winter and night were on the earth, 
And feebly moaned the shivering treeS;, 

A sigh of winter seemed to run 

Through every murmur of the breeze. 

She fled, and with her children all, 

She reached the stream and crossed it o'er, 

Bright visions of deliverance came 
Like dreams of plenty to the poor. 

Dreams ! vain dreams, heroic mother, 
Give all thy hopes and struggles o'er, 

The pursuer is on thy track, 
And the hunter at thy door. 

Judea's refuge cities had power 

To shelter, shield and save, 
E'en Rome had altars ; 'neath whose shade 

Might crouch the wan and weary slave. 

But Ohio had no sacred fane, 

To human rights so consecrate, 
Where thou may'st shield thy hapless ones 

From their darkly gathering fate. 

Then, said the mournful mother, 

If Ohio cannot save, 
I will do a deed for freedom. 

She shall find each child a grave. 



42 



I will save my precious children 
From their darkly threatened doom, 

I will hew their path to freedom 
Through the portals of the tomb. 

A moment in the sunlight, 
She held a glimmering knife, 

The next moment she had bathed it 
In the crimson fount of life. 

They snatched away the fatal knife, 
Her boys shrieked wild with dread ; 

The baby girl was pale and cold. 

They raised it up, the child was dead. 

Sends this deed of fearful daring 

Through my country's heart no thrill, 

Do the icy hands of slavery 
Every pure emotion chill ? 

Oh ! if there is any honor. 
Truth or justice in the land. 

Will ye not, as men and Christians, 
On the side of freedom stand ? 



43 



EIZPAH, THE DAUGHTER OF AI. 

Tidings ! sad tidings for the daughter of Ai, 
They are bearing her prince and loved away, 
Destruction falls like a mournful pall 
On the fallen house of ill-fated Saul. 

And Rizpah hears that her loved must die, 
But she hears it all with a tearless eye ; 
And clasping her hand with grief and dread 
She meekly bows her queenly head. 

The blood has left her blanching cheek, 
Her quivering lips refuse to speak, 
Oh ! grief like hers has learned no tone— 
A world of grief is all its own. 

But the deed is done, and the hand is stay'd 
That havoc among the brethren made. 
And Rizpah takes her lowly seat 
To watch the princely dead at her feet. 



44 



The jackall crept out with a stealthy tread, 
To batten and feast on the noble dead ; 
The vulture bore down with a heavy wing 
To dip his beak in life's stagnant spring. 

The hyena heard the jackall's howl, 
And he bounded forth with a sullen growl, 
When Rizpah's shriek rose on the air 
Like a tone from the caverns of despair. 

She sprang from her sad and lowly seat, 
For a moment her heart forgot to beat. 
And the blood rushed up to her marble cheek . 
And a flash to her eye so sad and meek. 

The vulture paused in his downward flight, 
As she raised her form to its queenly height. 
The hyena's eye had a horrid glare 
As he turned again to his desert lair. 

The jackall slunk back with a quickened tread. 
From his cowardly search of Rizpah's dead; 
Unsated he turned from the noble prey. 
Subdued by a glance of the daughter of Ai. 

Oh grief ! that a mother's heart should know. 
Such a weary weight of consuming wo, 
For seldom if ever earth has known 
Such love as the daughter of Aihath known. 



46 



RUTH AND NAOMI. 

Turn my daughters, full of wo, 
Is my heart so sad and lone ? 

Leave me children — I would go 
To my loved and distant home. 

From my bosom death has torn 
Husbandj children, all my stay, 

Left me not a single one. 
For my life's declining day. 

Want and wo surround my way, 
Grrief and famine where I tread ; 

In my native land they say 
God is giving Jacob bread. 

Naomi ceased, her daughters wept, 
Their yearning hearts were filled ; 

Fallin'g upon her withered neck. 
Their grief in tears distilFd. 

Like rain upon a blighted tree, ] 

The tears of Qrpah fell ; 
Kissing the pale and quivering lip. 

She breathed her sad farewell. 



46 



But Rutli stood up, on her brow 

There lay a heavenly calm; 
And from her lips came, soft and low. 

Words like a holy charm. 

I will not leave thee, on thy brow 
Are lines of sorrow, age and care ; 

Thy form is bent, thy step is slow. 
Thy bosom stricken, lone and sear. 

Oh ! when thy heart and home were glad, 
I freely shared thy joyous lot; 

And now that heart is lone and sad, 
Cease to entreat — I'll leave thee not. 

Oh ! if a lofty palace proud 

Thy future home shall be ; 
Where sycophants around thee crowd, 

I'll share that home with thee. 

And if on earth the humblest spot, 
Thy future home shall prove ; 

I'll bring into thy lonely lot 
The wealth of woman's love. 

Go where thou wilt, my steps are there, 

Our path in life is one ; 
Thou hast no lot I will not share, 

'Till life itself be done. 



47 



My country and my home for thee, 
I freely, willingly resign^ 

Thy people shall my people be, 
Thy God he shall be mine. 

Then, mother dear, entreat me not 
To turn from following thee ; 

My heart is nerved to share thy lot, 
"Whatever that may be. 



48 



MISCELLANEOUS WRITINGS. 



CHRISTIANITY 

Christianity is a system claiming God for its au- 
thor, and the welfare of man for its object. It is a 
system so uniform, exalted and pure, that the loftiest 
intellects have acknowledged its influence, and acqui- 
esced in the justness of its claims. Grenius has bent 
from his erratic course to gather fire from her altars, 
and pathos from the agony of Grethsemane and the 
sufferings of Calvary. Philosophy and science have 
paused amid their speculative researches and won- 
drous revelations, to gain wisdom from her teachings 
and knowledge from her precepts. Poetry has culled 
her fairest flowers and wreathed her softest, to bind 
her Author's " bleeding brow." Music has strung 
her sweetest lyres and breathed her noblest strains 
to celebrate His fame; whilst Learning has bent 
from her lofty heights to bow at the lowly cross. 
The constant friend of man, she has stood by him in 
his hour of greatest need. She has cheered the 
prisoner in his cell, and strengthened the martyr at 
the stake. She has nerved the frail and shrinking 
heart of woman for high and holy deeds. The worn 



49 



aud weary have rested their fainting heads upon her 
bosom, and gathered strength from her words and 
courage from her counsels. She has been the staff 
of decrepit age, and the joy of manhood in its 
strength. She has bent over the form of lovely 
childhood, and suffered it to have a place in the 
Eedeemer's arms. She has stood by the bed of the 
dying, and unveiled the glories of eternal life ; gild- 
ing the darkness of the tomb with the glory of the 
resurrection. 

Christianity has changed the moral aspect of na- 
tions. Idolatrous temples have crumbled at her 
touch, and guilt owned its deformity in her presence. 
The darkest habitations of earth have been irradiated 
with heavenly light, and the death-shriek of immo- 
lated victims changed for ascriptions of praise to 
God and the Lamb. Envy and Malice have been 
rebuked by her contented look, and fretful Impa- 
tience by her gentle and resigned manner. 

At her approach, fetters have been broken, and 
men have risen redeemed from dust, and freed from 
chains. Manhood has learned its dignity and worth ; 
its kindred with angels, and alliance to God. 

To man, guilty, fallen and degraded man, she 

shows a fountain drawn from the Redeemer's vein» ; 

there she bids him wash and be clean. She points 

hioi to '^ Mount Zion, the city of the living God, to 
4* 



50 



an innumerable company of angels, to the spirits of 
just men made perfect, and to Jesus, the Mediator 
of the New Covenant,'' and urges him to rise from 
the degradation of sin, renew his nature, and join 
with them. She shows a pattern so spotless and holy, 
so elevated and pure, that he might shrink from it 
discouraged, did she not bring with her a promise 
from the lips of Jehovah, that he would give power 
to the faint, and might to those who have no strength. 
Learning may bring her ample pages and her pon- 
derous records, rich with the spoils of every age, 
gathered from every land, and gleaned from every 
source. Philosophy and science may bring their 
abstruse researches and wondrous revelations — Liter- 
ature her elegance, with the toils of the pen, and the 
labors of the pencil — ^but they are idle tales com- 
pared to the truths of Christianity. They may cul- 
tivate the intellect, enlighten the understanding, 
give scope to the imagination, and refine the sensi- 
bilities ; but they open not, to our dim eyes and long- 
ing vision, the land of crystal founts and deathless 
flowers. Philosophy searches earth ; Religion opens 
heaven. Philosophy doubts and trembles at the 
portals of eternity ; Religion lifts the veil, and shows 
us golden streets, lit by the Redeemer's countenance, 
and irradiated by his smile. Philosophy strives to 
reconcile us to death ; Religion triumphs over it. 



51 



Philosophy treads amid the pathway of stars^ and 
stands a delighted listener to the music of the 
spheres; but Religion gazes on the glorious palaces 
of God, while the harpings of the blood-washed, and 
the songs of the redeemed, fall upon her ravished 
ear. Philosophy has her place j Religion her impor- 
tant sphere ; one is of importance here, the other of 
infinite and vital importance, both here and here- 
after. 

Amid ancient lore the Word of God stands unique 
and pre-eminent. Wonderful in its construction, 
admirable in its adaptation, it contains truths that a 
child may comprehend, and mysteries into which 
angels desire to look. It is in harmony with that 
adaptation of means to ends which pervades creation, 
from the polypus tribes, elaborating their coral 
homes, to man, the wondrous work of God. It forms 
the brightest link of that glorious chain which unites 
the humblest work of creation with the throne of 
the infinite. and eternal Jehovah. As light, with its 
infinite particles and curiously-blended colors, is 
suited to an eye prepared for the alternations of day ; 
as air, with its subtle and invisible essence, is fitted 
for the delicate organs of respiration ; and, in a word, 
as this material world is adapted to man's physical 
nature ; so the word of eternal truth is adapted to 



52 



his moral nature and mental constitution. It finds 
him wounded, sick and suffering, and points him to 
the balm of Grilead and the Physician of souls. It finds 
him stained by transgression and defiled with guilt, 
and directs him to the " blood that cleanseth from 
all unrighteousness and sin.^' It finds him athirst 
and faint, pining amid the deserts of life, and shows 
him the wells of salvation and the rivers of life. It 
addresses itself to his moral and spiritual nature, 
makes provision for his wants and weaknesses, and 
meets his yearnings and aspirations. It is adapted 
to his mind in its earliest stages of progression, and 
its highest state of intellectuality. It provides light 
for his darkness, joy for his anguish, a solace for his 
woes, balm for his wounds, and heaven for his hopes. 
It unveils the unseen world, and reveals Him who 
is the light of creation, and the joy of the universe, 
reconciled through the death of His Son. It pro- 
mises the faithful a blessed reiinion in a land un- 
dimmed with tears, undarkened by sorrow. It af 
fords a truth for the living and a refuge for the 
dying. Aided by the Holy Spirit, it guides us 
through life, points out the shoals, the quicksands 
and hidden rocks which endanger our path, and at 
last leaves us with the eternal God for our refuge, 
and his everlasting arms for our protection. 



58 



THE COLORED PEOPLE IN AMERICA. 

Having been placed by a dominant race in circum- 
stances over wbich we have had no control, we have 
been the butt of ridicule and the mark of oppression. 
Identified with a people over whom weary ages of 
degradation have passed, whatever concerns them, as 
a race, concerns me. I have noticed among our 
people a disposition to censure and upbraid each 
other, a disposition which has its foundation rather, 
perhaps, in a want of common sympathy and consid- 
eration, than mutual hatred, or other unholy passions. 
Born to an inheritance of misery, nurtured in deg- 
radation, and cradled in oppression, with the scorn 
of the white man upon their souls, his fetters upon 
their limbs, his scourge upon their flesh, what can be 
expected from their offspring^ but a mournful reaction 
of that cursed system which spreads its baneful in- 
fluence over body and soul ; which dwarfs the in- 
tellect, stunts its development, debases the spirit, and 
degrades the soul ? Place any nation in the same 
condition which has been our hapless lot, fetter their 
limbs and degrade their souls, debase their sons and 
corrupt their daughters, and when the restless yearn- 
ings for liberty shall burn through heart and brain — 
when, tortured by wrong and goaded by oppression, 
the hearts that would madden with misery, or break 



54 

in despair, resolve to break their thrall, and escape 
from bondage, then let the bay of the bloodhound 
and the scent of the human tiger be upon their track ; 
— let them feel that, from the ceaseless murmur of 
the Atlantic to the sullen roar of the Pacific, from 
the thunders of the rainbow-crowned Niagara to the 
swollen waters of the Mexican gulf, thej have no 
shelter for their bleeding feet, or resting-place for 
their defenceless heads ; — let them, when nominally 
free, feel that they have only exchanged the iron 
yoke of oppression for the galling fetters of a vitiated 
public opinion ; — let prejudice assign them the lowest 
places and the humblest positions, and make them 
''hewers of wood and drawers of water ;^^ — let their 
income be so small that they must from necessity 
bequeath to their children an inheritance of poverty 
and a limited education, — and tell me, reviler of our 
race ! censurer of our people ! if there is a nation in 
whose veins runs the purest Caucasian blood, upon 
whom the same causes would not produce the same 
eflfects ; whose social condition, intellectual and moral 
character, would present a more favorable aspect than 
ours ? But there is hope ; yes, blessed be Grod ! 
for our down-trodden and despised race. Public and 
private schools accommodate our children ; and in 
my own southern home, I see women, whose lot is 
unremitted labor, saving a pittance from their scanty 



65 

wages to defray the expense of learning to read. We 
have papers edited by colored editors, which we may 
consider it an honor to possess, and a credit to sustain. 
We have a church that is extending itself from east 
to west, from north to south, through poverty and 
reproach, persecution and pain. We have our faults, 
our want of union and concentration of purpose ; but 
are there not extenuating circumstances around our 
darkest faults — palliating excuses for our most egre- 
gious errors ? and shall we not hope, that the mental 
and moral aspect which we present is but the first 
step of a mighty advancement, the faintest corrusca- 
tions of the day that will dawn with unclouded splen- 
dor upon our down-trodden and benighted race, and 
that ere long we may present to the admiring gaze of 
those who wish us well, a people to whom knowledge 
has given power, and righteousness exaltation ? 



BREATHING THE AIR OF FREEDOM. 

Niagara Falls, Sept. 12th, 1856. 
My Dear Friend : — I have just returned from 
Canada to-day. I gave one lecture at Toronto, which 
was well attended. * * * Well, I have gazed for 
the first time upon Free Land ! And would you 
believe it, tears sprang to my eyes, and I wept. Oh ! 



5C 

it was a glorious sight to gaze for the first time on a 
land where a poor slave, flying from our glorious 
land of liberty (!), would in a moment find his fetters 
broken, his shackles loosed, and whatever he was in 
the land of Washington, beneath the shadow of 
Bunker Hill Monument, or even Plymouth Kock, 
here he becomes " a man and a brother." 

I had gazed on Harper's Ferry, or rather the Rock 
at the Ferry, towering up in simple grandeur with 
the gentle Potomac gliding peacefully by its feet, and 
felt that that was God's Masonry ] and my soul had 
expanded in gazing on its sublimity. I had seen the 
Ocean, singing its wild chorus of sounding waves, 
and ecstacy bad thrilled upon the living chords of my 
heart. I have since then seen the rainbow-crowned 
Niagara, girdled with grandeur, and robed with glory, 
chanting the choral hymn of Omnipotence, but none 
of the sights have melted me as the first sight of 
Free Land. 

Towering mountains, lifting their hoary summits 
to catch the first faint flush of day when the sunbeams 
kiss the shadows from morning's drowsy face, may 
expand and exalt your soul. The first view of the 
ocean may fill you with strange ecstacy and delight. 
Niagara, the great, the glorious Niagara, may hush 
your spirit with its ceaseless thunder ; it may charm 
you with its robe of crested spray and rainbow crown ; 
but the land of Freedom has a lesson of deeper sig- 
nificance than foaming waves or towering mountains. 

It carries the heart back to that heroic struggle 
for emancipation, in Great Britain, in which the 
great heart of the people throbbed for liberty, and 
the mighty pulse of the nation beat for freedom till 
nearly 800,000 men, women and children arose re- 
deemed from bondage and freed from chains. 



P D- •? rt ^ 




!5°'^ 








V 



/ y\ '-^S /\ 




•*bv 




^o<^ 




JDBBS BRO^ t'^Jo!*, ^^ 



•\^.j:^. ^